Gas well sparks lawsuit in Rifle |

Gas well sparks lawsuit in Rifle

by Lynn Burton Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Daily file photoFlames leap skyward in front of a drilling rig at the site of a natural gas well being drilled by Encana Company on Hunter's Mesa near Eagle, Colo. A Rifle couple has sued the company over a road built across their property that leads to another well pad.

That’s what Brynildson and his wife, Linda, of Rifle, claim in a lawsuit they filed against EnCana Oil and Gas (USA) in Garfield County District Court on Dec. 15.The Brynildsons are asking for $20,000 for a well pad EnCana built on their property last summer, 45 cents per square foot for road right of way to the site, plus exemplary damages, Scott Brynildson said.”I understand they need to get gas out of the ground,” Brynildson said last week, “but they are running over the landowners.”EnCana representatives could not be reached for comment.In a recent five-part series, the Associated Press said soaring demand for natural gas and Bush Administration push to speed production are creating a new energy boom in the Rocky Mountain West – an area the industry sees as “America’s Middle East.” But times have changed since development-hungry communities welcomed the oil shale boom of the ’70s and ’80s. According to the Associated Press, people who moved to the mountains for the lifestyle are teaming up with ranches and urging their communities and the government to put on the breaks.Ground zero may be the Roan Plateau, which sprawls from the edge of Eagle County across northwestern Colorado.The Brynildsons own 1,100 acres of land, but not the mineral rights, on County Road 315, two miles south of the Interstate 70 Mamm Creek interchange.Co-defendants in the case are Exxon-Mobile and Calpine Corp., according to court documents.The lawsuit names EnCana as the property’s lease operator. In the spring of 2003, EnCana notified the Brynildsons the company intended to create a well pad and drill at least two natural gas wells on the property.EnCana indicated it wanted to build a road to the well pad on the south of side of the Brynildson property, through an easement obtained from adjacent land owners Ernie and Anna Cruz. That easement was called the Cruz route. The Brynildsons countered by asking that the road through their property be built along an established route.”EnCana stated that using the established route would not be a problem,” the lawsuit states.The Brynildsons then put their proposal in writing in August, but EnCana did not accept it.”Instead, while the Brynildsons were out of town, or possibly while EnCana was still posturing that it intended to use the established route, EnCana built a new road entering the Brynildson’s property using the Cruz route,” the lawsuit says.The lawsuit says the 30-foot wide road runs through a significant stand of cedar trees on an prominent hill, and cuts into the value of the property.Brynildson, who owns B&B Plumbing in Rifle, has lived in the area since 1950. “We moved here from Kansas when I was 3,” he said.He uses his 1,100 acres for mule deer habitat and his family hunts on it, but he does not lease it to other hunters. Although not cited in his lawsuit, Brynildson has two other complaints against EnCana regarding the half-mile road.First, he asked the company to use 3/4 inch gravel road base on the road.”They said they’d consider it if they make enough money on the wells,” he said.Brynildson also has a problem with the color of the gates EnCana built on his property.”One is green, and one is silver,” he said. “I prefer them to be green … or at least match.”

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